Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Williams and Räikkönen

The rumours about Kimi Räikkönen and Williams continue and the presence of his management team David and Steve Robertson in the Williams team hospitality unit in Abu Dhabi only added to the story-mongering. The fact is that the pair are based in Dubai, where they run a trading company, dealing in steel, wood and consumer goods, so it is a logical place for them to appear each year. However, there is no question that they are talking to Williams about Räikkönen but is is not as simple as most team-driver negotiations as I hear that Räikkönen is looking to acquire some equity in the team. Sir Frank Williams is famous for not parting with shares. The team lost Adrian Newey back in the mid 1990s because it would not make him a shareholder and the recent flotation was simply a device to raise money to allow both Williams and his longtime partner Patrick Head to extract some of the value from the team, without losing control of the business. Williams continues to hold the majority share of slightly more than 50 percent, while Austrian wheeler-dealer Toto Wolff has around 16 percent, Head has reduced his stake to just 5.8 percent and Cyrte Investments, a Dutch investment company, largely controlled by Dutch media magnate John de Mol bought up 5 percent. The rest is traded on the XETRA exchange in Frankfurt.

There are 10 million Williams shares and trading thus far has produced no sale larger than 18,715 shares, which is a tiny percentage, so there is no sign of anyone building up a stake. On paper the team is worth €170 million, but it should be remembered that when the shares were floated the value was €246 million, so anyone other than the original shareholders will make a substantial loss if they sell now.

Räikkönen and the Robertsons have already been team owners in Formula 3. They established Räikkönen Robertson Racing at the end of 2004, when Kimi was still racing for McLaren. The team, based in Woking, was managed by Boyo Hieatt and enjoyed some success in the British F3 Championship, winning the title in 2006 with Mike Conway. The team was never really in contention after that and at the end of 2010 the company was sold to Hieatt.

It is probably a good time to try to buy shares in the team, as it is at a low point in its history and the chances are that with new engines and a different design team, the team will make some progress next year. If not the share price will suffer and so shares might become easier to acquire. The team admits it is interested in signing Raikkonen and says that a negotiation is going on at the moment.


Courtesy: Claudie

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